We don’t know much about Ammaron, the caretaker of the Nephite records who selected Mormon as his successor. We know that he was the brother of Amos, and therefore a descendant of Alma, who organized the church at the waters of Mormon about 450 years earlier. And we know that he was “constrained by the Holy Ghost” to “hide up the records which were sacred.” Mormon tells us that Ammaron “did hide them up unto the Lord” (4 Nephi 1:48-49).
Ammaron accomplished this task by “depositing” the records in a hill called Shim in the land of Antum (Mormon 1:3). How voluminous were these records? Mormon uses the phrase “a hundredth part” four times to describe the brevity of his record compared with his source material (Words of Mormon 1:5, Helaman 3:14, 3 Nephi 5:8, 3 Nephi 26:6). And Moroni uses the same phrase to describe his abridgment of the record of the Jaredites (Ether 15:33). So Ammaron wasn’t just burying a single volume of sacred records, as Moroni would do a few decades later. He was burying a library.
Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied that the riches of the Nephites would become “slippery.” Trust would evaporate to the point that property rights would essentially disappear. “We lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone,” they would lament (Helaman 13:31-36). Mormon recognized the fulfillment of that prophecy among his people. The people “began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again” (Mormon 1:18).
But Samuel had identified an exception to this prophecy: “Whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more,” he said, “save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord.” And he quoted God to emphasize the point: “For I will, saith the Lord, that they shall hide up their treasures unto me” (Helaman 13:18-19).
Multiple times, Mormon emphasizes that Ammaron had hidden the records up “unto the Lord:”
- “And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me…” (Mormon 1:2).
- “I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord” (Mormon 4:23).
- “They are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time” (Mormon 5:12).
And Mormon was very clear about why the records needed to be hidden:
- “Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed” (Mormon 2:17).
- “It is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth.” (Mormon 5:12).
Jesus said not to cast our pearls before swine (3 Nephi 14:6). Alma taught that those who receive the mysteries of God “are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him” (Alma 12:9). Judiciousness is key. It does you no good to share something sacred with a person who will not treat it with reverence. It doesn’t do them any good either. That’s not to say that they will never be prepared to receive it, but like Ammaron and Mormon, we might have to wait for a future time, when they are more receptive and more prepared.
Last April, Elder Neil L. Andersen observed: “Some experiences are so sacred that we guard them in our spiritual memory and do not share them” (“Spiritually Defining Memories,” General Conference, April 2020).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave the following guidance:
We know more than we can tell other people—not only for reasons of confidentiality but for what I will call “contextuality.” Those who are not a part of the process are not likely to value and understand its significance. They’re not apt to appreciate fully….
Our personal spiritual experiences are much like this. They are personal. They are spiritual. Often they are not sharable. Some may be, but it takes inspiration to know when to share them. I recall hearing President Marion G. Romney, who combined wit and wisdom, say, “We’d have more spiritual experiences if we didn’t talk so much about them.”“Called to Serve,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 27 March 1994
Today, I will be careful with sacred things. I will treat my spiritual experiences with reverence and will remember that some of them may be better left unshared.